US official holds talks over land and maritime borders between Lebanon and Israel

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield, left, holds talks with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Beirut. (AP/File)
Updated 13 June 2019

US official holds talks over land and maritime borders between Lebanon and Israel

  • Lebanon rejected Satterfield’s suggestion that Israel could invest oil wealth extracted from the area into a 360-sq km zone

BEIRUT: US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield has held a new round of talks with Lebanese officials, regarding the negotiation mechanism between Lebanon and Israel on their land and maritime borders.

However, a Lebanese government source told Arab News that “things are still complicated.”

Satterfield, currently in Beirut, met with Lebanon’s Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Wednesday.

The source said: “Complications are not only limited to the negotiation’s time frame, but to every other detail, particularly the issue of setting the maritime border.

“The file of setting the land border, however, is not an issue, where there is an adopted and continuous negotiation mechanism,” the source added.

In 2012, US meditation by former envoys Frederic Hof and Amos Hochstein acknowledged Lebanon’s right to 500 square kilometers of the disputed area along the Lebanese-Israeli border.

Lebanon rejected Satterfield’s suggestion that Israel could invest oil wealth extracted from the area into a 360-sq km zone.

UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis informed Aoun and Berri on Monday that the UN had agreed to sponsor and host negotiations at its regional headquarters in Naqoura. Berri’s press office said the meeting discussed the issue of land and maritime borders, while Hariri’s said the meeting “reviewed the path of (Satterfield’s) mission.”

Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col, UN head of mission and force commander in Lebanon, chaired Monday’s tripartite military meeting in Naqoura between official representatives of the Lebanese and Israeli armed forces.

Discussions “focused on air and ground violations, the situation along the Blue Line, the issue of permanent violations including in the northern part of the village of GHajjar, as well as other issues within the scope of the UN Security Council.”

Maj Gen. Del Col asserted that “the Tripartite mechanism is a successful conduit in finding solutions and minimizing tensions, as it allows us all to take stock of current pressing issues and security concerns along the Blue Line, in an open and transparent manner.”

Meetings in Naqoura have been regularly held under the auspices of the UN since the 2006 war in southern Lebanon, as an “essential conflict management and confidence building mechanism,” according the UN’s media office.


Jordan criticizes Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque changes

Updated 18 August 2019

Jordan criticizes Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque changes

  • Palestinians welcomed the Jordanian position but expressed concerns over a decline of support for Amman’s custodianship of the holy places at Al-Aqsa

AMMAN: Jordan has stepped up its diplomatic pressure on Israel, demanding that they do not change the status quo at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Zaid Lozi, director-general of Jordan’s Foreign Ministry, summoned Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Amir Weissbrod to protest Israel’s actions in Jerusalem.

According to Petra News, Lozi told the envoy that recent remarks by Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Ardan over changing the status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque are unacceptable. Lozi added that the mosque is a place of worship for Muslims only.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi addressed a group of EU ambassadors in Amman and “stressed the urgency of effective international steps against Israel’s violations of Holy Sites in occupied Jerusalem.”

Safadi told Arab News that the situation in Jerusalem is challenging and must be addressed. He said that he will present a detailed report on Jordan’s position to Parliament on Monday.

The ministry denounced the Israeli authorities’ closure of the mosque’s gates and demanded that Israel respects its obligations in accordance with international humanitarian law.

HIGHLIGHT

• Muslims insist that all 144,000 square meters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site are a single unit that has belonged to them for 11 centuries.

Hatem Abdel Qader, a member of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, told Arab News that Israeli authorities had been attempting to enforce major changes at the mosque.

“Security forces barged into the mosque yesterday. They went to the Bab Al-Rahmeh Mosque where they confiscated carpets and the closet where shoes are kept.”

Jordan’s diplomatic statements follow comments by Ardan, who said that Israel is disappointed with the current state of affairs at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

According to Israeli officials, the mosque area is sovereign Israeli territory, despite it being administered by Jordan. Muslims insist that all 144,000 square meters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site are a single unit that has belonged to them for 11 centuries.

Qader said that Palestinians welcomed the Jordanian position but expressed concerns over a decline of support for Amman’s custodianship of the holy places at Al-Aqsa.

“There appears to have been a gradual deterioration of Arab and Islamic support to Jordan. It surprises me that Muslims have been quiet, perhaps they see an advantage if Jordan’s role is diminished? If true, this would be dangerous.”

Qader, a former minister in the Palestinian government and a current member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, told Arab News that Jordan’s position “guarantees continuation of the status quo.”